On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. (Acts 27:27-32, NIV)
Last week we left the Apostle Paul encouraged by an angel that those on ship he was on, headed to Rome, would all survive. He told the sailors this, but it doesn’t seem like they believed him. THEY hadn’t spoken to an angel, and the STORM was relentless. Fourteen miserable, frightening days! So, like rats on a sinking ship, some sailors tried to escape.
Each man had an important role to play on the ship. The fulfillment of each man’s duty was essential for survival. If they left, it would bring disaster. Paul told the soldiers this very thing (v. 31).
Survival instinct is human nature. Jumping ship “feels” right, but it’s often wrong. In this instance, the lifeboats wouldn’t have made it through this storm. It was more dangerous OUTSIDE than in. Further, the rest of the crew was relying on a full team for survival.
I’ve counseled a bazillion people over the years who are thinking about jumping ship. Take marriage, for instance…the marriage is sinking…I’m taking the lifeboat. Each one of them has discovered the same truth. Climbing out of God’s boat leads to shipwreck. And what’s worse, because they put themselves and their own happiness first, others who were counting on them the most were greatly harmed. Though it might not have seemed possible in the stormy marriage, that storm could have been survived with all passengers accounted for and the destination reached.
Maybe it’s a storm in your marriage, in a relationship, at work…if you’re thinking about jumping ship, just remember this before trying to sneak away: Jesus is in the habit of speaking to storms and stilling them. Talk to him about it!
Hang on and cut the lifeboat loose!